17 August 2017

Today I have learnt to do a Blog in anticipation of my big trip to Europe.  I say Europe but in actual fact, I am going to Paris and then getting a train down to St Jean Pied de Port and walking the Way of St James – the Camino de Compostella – from France across the top of Spain into Santiago – 800kms.

Two weeks until I fly out of Sydney off on my big adventure.  It has been a while since I travelled to the northern hemisphere and I am sure I will see a lot of changes but this will add to the experience and adventure I am about to embark on.



Train ride to Paris

Woke up to beautiful sunshine this morning and couldn’t decide whether to get up and do a little bike ride into town or start and pack. It was a huge decision!!

It started to rain so stayed in bed.

I really need to have a day without food and drinks. 🤣🤣🤣

Got up and started to pack. Not keen on doing it and the big question could I fit everything in my bag!!!

The only way I could do it was to bring out my drop dead gorgeous Italian handbag and christian it! My present to myself from Italy.

Yesterday I mentioned to Max that I hadn’t bought myself a present from France.

When I was at the markets on Sunday I saw a very beautiful pair of earrings but didn’t buy them. I decided I wanted them this morning and luckily for me the market was on again in Carnac.

It had started to rain a bit so Max said he would drive me down to the market to see if the lady had her stall there again today.

I was dropped off in the rain and off I went. Luck prevailed as she was there and spoke fluent English and was very excited that her earrings would be going to Australia. They were so lovely I bought 2 pairs then made my way to the pick up point in the pouring rain. Luckily I had bought my poncho raincoat I got in Spain a few years ago.

Jumped in the car and off we went to Sur la Mer for coffee by the water and then home again to finish my packing.

By the time we put the push bike away and finished packing, the sun had come out and it was very hot!

So here I am at the train station at Auray waiting for my train to Paris.

Very sad to say farewell to my brother as we have had a wonderful week here in Carnac. A really pretty part of the world.

As Max left me at the train we both said we would have an alcohol free day but after he left and I had an hour to kill I went to the bar and had a glass of wine. I am still on holidays!!!

The train pulled in and I hopped on, found my seat and promptly fell asleep.

We got to Rennes and there was a slight problem in that the doors of the train wouldn’t open. People were queued up both inside and outside the train. I thought it was quite funny and so did the woman sitting beside me.

We pulled into Montparnasse 15 minutes late but it didn’t worry me.

Paris was very hot so I made my way out of the station straight down to the airport shuttle and boarded the air conditioned bus.

By this time it was peak hour so it took rather a long time to get to the airport. Just like our M4!

I got out at Terminal 1 and got the airport shuttle which is a little monorail that took me to my hotel and I am now here, showered and sitting in the bar having a quiet glass of rose before I hit the sack.

Will be up at 5 to have breakfast and be at the airport by 6 ready for my very long trip home.

So this brings me to the end of my Italian/French blog for this year.

As always I love doing this and hope you have all enjoyed my travels with me.

See you all on my next adventure

Caio Caio

Last full day in Carnac

Can’t believe that my wonderful holiday is coming to an end.

It was still a bit overcast this morning but at least it wasn’t raining.

I have had a blocked ear for most of the holiday from swimming in Tuscany and getting water in my ear.

As I am getting on a plane on Thursday thought I had better do something about it.

Got the pushbike out and rode down to the doctors. Here in Carnac the doctors open at 9am and you don’t need an appointment. I got down there at about 10 to 9 and there were 2 other people waiting. The doctor turned up at about 9.20 and we all filed in and took a seat. Everyone knows what number the are in the queue so the first person went in and then the next and then me.

The doctor was lovely, spoke fluent English and had been to Australia. She had photos of the opera house and kangaroo island on her wall.

She syringed my ears and it was wonderful to be able to hear properly again.

Rode home and got ready for our outing today.

First we had to go back to Leroy Merlin which is the Bunnings equivalent here in France as Max had to order a sink but then we were off.

Again drove through very pretty countryside and arrived inRochefort-en-Terre. The most beautiful town. Cobblestone streets, houses covered in vines and flowers everywhere.

After a little wander around we had lunch and the specialty was crepes.

Found a lovely restaurant overlooking the valley and I had a Norwegian crepe which is a crepe filled with salmon and all sorts of goodies and then to finish off had a desert crepe

It was delicious!!!

Did some more wandering around town and went up the hill to the Chateau.

It was being renovated and apparently someone lives in there so we couldn’t go in. I would hate to think what the cost would be of keeping these chateaux and big houses maintained!

Wandered some more

Took the scenic trip back through Grand-Champ and ended up in St Anne d’Auray. I googled St Anne and apparently she was the grandmother of Jesus. She was Mary’s mother.

That’s her on top of the spire of the church.

As a final stop we went to Trinite de mer for a drink by the ocean and would you believe they had Four Pines beer on tap.

On the way home we drove past this amazing display of tree trunks that were maintained by this man and he had fashioned people out of them. They were on both sides of the road.

Of course as a final farewell Sheila and Robin had invited us for dinner downstairs and Christine and Vincent also.

Had a wonderful last night

Very sad to say goodbye to them all but have let them all know I am available for house sitting whenever they need to go away or know of people going away.

A huge last day in Carnac. Didn’t take long to get to sleep


Rain rain go away!

Woke to the sound of rain on my windows.

How dare it rain when I am on holidays!

Slept in this morning after our late night last night.

It was pretty miserable outside but we got ourselves ready for a day out.

Had an exciting start to our day out. Max took me to the local tip!

One thing I have noticed here in France everyone is very conscious of recycling, bottles, paper, rubbish and even Nespresso capsules. There was a special bin at the dump to put them in.

We headed out to Quiberon which is at the furthest point around the bay from Max’s. There is a sort of causeway going there and a fully functioning fort. Been in use protecting the place from invaders for 1000s of years.

Got out to the coast which is actually the Atlantic Ocean. The other side where I was swimming is also the Atlantic but known as the Bay of Biscay.

Drove around to Quiberon and there at the end of the point was this very fairytale looking castle. Apparently a very old rich man owns it and lives in it.

We drove through the town which of course was another beautiful town

It was lunchtime so went and found a lovely restaurant down on the waterfront and had the local fair.

Sardines, crepes and rose

As the weather was so bad we got back in the car and drove all over the place.

As you can see from some of these photos these are people’s holiday homes. Saddest thing is they only come down for a few weeks in the summer and are closed up for the rest of the year.

I would be more than willing to look after them for the owners.

It was such a miserable day we went on an adventure to Vannes so Max could buy a sink, vacuum cleaner and taps. How exciting. Saw the French version of Bunnings!!!

We came home and had a little rest as we had been invited out to dinner to Christine and Vincent’s place who live in the most gorgeous place. It was too wet to take photos but just beautiful.

They had another couple as well. Bernadette and Didian. It was a lovely night and the food was to die for. Vincent cooked clams on the barbecue in a Bloody Mary sauce. Out of this world. Followed by a citron tiramisu which was so delicious Christine gave me a doggy bag to bring home.

I have asked for the recipe in English.

Bernadette is an artist. She gets porcelain from Limoge and paints it then fires it. She showed me some of her work and it was stunning.

So another wonderful day in Carnac and here it is 12.30am and still sitting up as it only got dark about an hour ago.

Buon nuit

Living the village life

Today started off with coffee in the Cafe Breton with Vincent then it was off to the markets to do the shopping.

Love a market and this was no exception. In this part of town there is one on Sunday and Wednesday. Another town it is Tuesday and Saturday so there is never a shortage of fresh produce as well as clothes, hats, jewellery, kitchen utensils and versions other items. They were huge markets and the food. OMG!

The spices and paella and fish and periwinkles and pippies. Absolutely wonderful.

After the markets we took a little wander around the town. So old. That is what I love the history.

Max had to go and do some other things so he dropped me off at ‘the stones’ or Megalithes and I played tourist and went on a little train ride around the countryside.

Carnac is famous for these stones. They have been here for over 6000 years and they are the dilemma of the palaeontologists, historians and archeologists as no one is really sure were they came from. There are 3 men who have been studying them for years.

As you can see in the photos they have all been fenced off to stop damage. Carnac has applied for UNESCO world heritage classification as it is of significant historical importance.

The tour went around a few towns and by the harbour

I am loving the Bretagne homes. White with blue shutters. Very cute.

We are now sitting on the balcony overlooking the ocean eating Brittany oysters. So fresh Max just shucked them still with sea water in them.

We got the pushbike out of the garage before lunch so am going to go on a little bike ride around the beachfront after lunch.

Have just been for a 2.5hr bike ride around the area. Very flat and very pretty.

Cycled all the way along the beach front

Then cycled back inland to the Megalithes as there was one in particular I wanted to see that wasn’t on the tour.

It was the giant Megalithe which I found after taking the bike off road down bush tracks that were very pretty.

Turned a corner and there it was.

Just standing there in a rectangle of stones around it

Totally fascinating.

I cycled back into town and found the place where the markets were this morning but absolutely no trace this afternoon.

Cycled back out to the beach and found the town sign for Carnac. It has two names as one is the Bretagne Gaelic Karnag

At this stage of my blog I should show you where I am staying

In the grey roof bit second one across with no white shutters. 4th floor – 63 steps up and no lift.

This is the view

Having a quiet night at home tonight as out for the next 2 nights for dinner with friends and neighbours.

With summer being here and daylight saving. It is now 11.25pm and has just got dark half an hour ago.

It has been lovely today experiencing village life and exploring the area.

Buon nuit

Carnac, France

What a beautiful village. Right on the Bay of Biscay/Atlantic ocean.

Had a great nights sleep and now having a car free day.

Got up this morning and walked along the beach to the village to pick up the croissants and baguettes for breakfast. There is a lovely sea breeze and hope to have a swim in the Atlantic Ocean later on today.

There were people swimming but there was a lot of screaming and swearing. Presumably because of the temperature of the water.

Walking along the beach these were a few of the beach shacks I passed.

I have been told that the majority of these places are closed up all year and opened in July and August when the owners come for their summer holiday. What a waste!

Explored the village and found a few Patisseries and Boulangerie and the smell coming out of them all.

When I am in France I have to have a fresh croissant for breakfast every morning as there is something about that I love. When in France…..

We are having a quiet day today. I am sitting on the beach and we are going out for lunch around 1ish. As I said nothing too strenuous today.

Went for lunch at L’etage with friends of Max’s, Christine and Vincent. Lovely and the setting and lunch was delicious.

Overlooking the harbour with lots of boats, yachts, catamarans, it was lovely

After lunch came back to the house and was so hot I went to the beach.

They have 4m tides here and the tide was out so had to walk quite a way to get in the water and it only came up to my knees. However it was beautiful in and had a good splash around and a swim and lay on the beach for a while.

We had been invited to the neighbours for drinks at 6 just downstairs.

Off we went and I met Robin and Sheila. An English couple but lived in France for years. They bought their unit just after Max.

What a lovely couple

Well so much for drinks. Robin had could a sea bass which they were going to have for dinner and we were invited to stay. So we stumbled home just after midnight. Great night and great people.

Good night

All the way to Carnac

Woke this morning to the sun pouring in my window.

Wandered around the estate and had a look at the pool before breakfast and a farewell to Bruno.

Max and I headed into Loches which is yet another beautiful town in France. There was a castle and battlements overlooking the town and Joan of Arc had come through there 600 years ago and it was her 600th anniversary in 2012.

We had coffee in town and headed off to Amboise which is another beautiful town in France.

This is the town where Leonardo da Vinci spent the last years of his life. King Francois 1 gave him a castle to live in called Clos Lucé and it was beautiful.

The inside was lovely and they had rooms set up as his library, his artist studio and his study where he did all his inventions.

Apparently when he went down to this castle he took the Mona Lisa, the virgin child with St Anne and St John the Baptist. These are all now in the Louvre.

It was a very beautiful home and I didn’t realise how many things he invented. Way before his time.

I found something very funny in the kitchen of the house. There was a gossip chair where people sat when visiting

There was also a Mona Lisa rose

The gardens were spectacular and all around them were Leonardo’s inventions that you could actually see how they worked as well as his drawings having in the trees

Of course we couldn’t leave without doing this

It was a lovely way to finish of our journey from Italy to France as we decided it was time to have a day out of the car so headed for Carnac where Max lives.

We had lunch in Amboise before leaving and had a wander around the very beautiful town

I think this town had something to do with the Troglodytes we experienced in the Loire last year as a lot of the houses were built into the cliff and the streets were called Rue de Troglo

Spotted a library for everyone’s use

Had a wonderful lunch and had the dish of the day which was Stingray flaps

Absolutely delicious and the bones after were unusual.

Drove out of town and as I looked back over the Loire river this is what I saw

Loved the town and would come back.

We hit the road and every second place we passed was a little ‘shack’

Pulled in to get petrol and look what pulled in beside us

Did some serious driving this afternoon and arrived at Carnac at about 8pm. Still like daylight.

This is the view from his balcony. The Bay of Biscay/Atlantic Ocean

Now done basics like washing as had no clean clothes left and sitting on the balcony watching the sun set at 10.30pm.

A day by the beach tomorrow.

Goodnight all.

France and Chateaux

Bit overcast today and it rained last night but everything very green.

Set off this morning from Macon and started heading towards home.

Virtually every 10kms there was a chateau and very impressive. I started taking photos at the first one but Max said not to bother as they are a dime a dozen and we are heading to a very fabulous one today.

As it was very overcast and starting to rain we decided to take a main road instead of back roads. The area we were passing through was farming area.

We reached the Loire Valley today and I didn’t realise how big it was. When we were here last year cycling through we only touched a tiny bit of it.

We came through Le Montet for coffee then Monrichard

All the beautiful flower boxes with the colourful flowers I saw today had their own reticulation system.

Kept going until we reached Chenonceau which is the place of a very beautiful chateau

We parked the car and got our ticket for entry and just strolled throughout the rest of the day.

It was a very beautiful chateau built in the 16th century on the river Cher. The original fortified castle and mill were demolished and the only thing remaining was the keep at the front. It had a moat and the history behind it all is full of scandal and intrigue. Most relating to kings and their mistresses and one owner was the husband of Mary queen of scots.

One of the direct descendants of the owners was the novelist George Sands.

It was amazing as well as the incredible gardens and herb gardens.

I had to take photos of all the beds as they were incredible and did not in any way look comfortable.

Apparently in the day (14thC) you were expected to receive your guests in bed. King Louis had approximately 1500 beds to receive his guests. I reckon it was because the huge chateaux were so cold they couldn’t get out of bed as it was the warmest place to be.

Below it all was the kitchens that had its own larder, butchery, bread oven and pantry.

It was a wonderful afternoon spent wandering through the chateau, having lunch in the gardens, wandering through the grounds and imagining what it would have been like to live in those days.

  • We saw all the carriages they had and during the 2nd world war it was transformed into a military hospital and had the very first ever X-ray machine and apothecary.
  • In 1576 Catherine de Medici built a gallery over the the bridge to be able to hold parties when her guests arrived from Paris to visit.
  • There was one on every floor and during the war it was transformed into a hospital.
  • The chateau is still privately owned by the Menier family who have a chocolate factory.
  • A lot of the history is also related to the Medici family. Oh the scandal!!!
  • Many hours later we emerged into the gardens and made our way back to the car to head off 19kms down the road to Gellines where a friend of Max’s, Bruno owned and looked after a chateau.
  • OMG! What a beautiful place. Been in the family for 4 generations and a huge place which was originally used for hunting weekends years ago. The stables and carriages were huge and pheasant, boar and chamois as well as deer were hunted.
  • It is hired out as a Gite (French hostel/weekender for families and the big house is rented out for a lot of people. The chateau has 18 bedrooms. No one was staying so had a look through the place. There were doors leading to doors leading to other doors that took you to other rooms. It was like a maze but fascinating. So much work that needed to be done.
  • Bruno was lovely and we had a wonderful dinner cooked by him out in the garden under the French/Loire sun. Loving the evenings as it doesn’t get dark until 9.30-10ish.
  • Bruno has his own house on the estate but he had given Max and I our own rooms in the Gite. Very comfortable thanks very much.
  • There was also a boat shed and lake
  • Had a wonderful day and a wonderful evening so now it is time to lay my head down on this very comfortable bed in a very comfortable room and think about tomorrow when I wake in the morning.
  • Goodnight